Independence Day
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Staff Picks

Don't forget to check out our staff picks for kids!

October 7, 2013

The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse that Inspired a Nation

The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse that Inspired a Nation
by Letts, Elizabeth
798.25079 LET

It must have been fate that brought Henry de Leyer and the horse he later named Snowman together. Henry was looking for a horse that he could use for riding lessons and was hoping to find one at the local auction. But Henry was late and only arrived in time to see the last horses being loaded on the truck headed for the slaughterhouse. As Henry looked over the sad lot he noticed a dirty, scarred plow horse looking steadily back at him. Something clicked and Henry bought the horse for $80.00.

This docile animal, who had only ever known a plow, soon exhibited a hidden talent – he could jump. De Leyer, who had been an equestrian in his native Holland before World War II, recognized the special gift his horse had and soon had Snowman entered in jumping competitions. Snowman and Henry rose through the rarified air of show jumping, ultimately competing in national shows usually dominated by the rich and privileged of society. Their symbiotic relationship proved what man and animal can accomplish when they combine their talent, skill and determination to achieve great things.

A documentary film on Snowman and Henry de Leyer is planned for release in late 2013.

                 — Recommended by Kim Vanderwilt, Lawrence Library


September 30, 2013

The Wave

The Wave
by Mosley, Walter

Errol Porter, a man down on his luck, happens to come across a man who resembles his late father when he was much younger. However, as he starts to interact with the stranger, Errol finds that stranger’s past and his father’s past seem to be an identical match. Errol ventures to uncover answers behind this particular mystery, but the adventure takes Errol down timeless paths and opens up ancient doors that Errol my not be ready to acknowledge.

— Recommended by Rodney Freeman, Spades Park Library


September 23, 2013

One Man's Paradise

One Man's Paradise
by Corleone, Douglas

Kevin Corvelli, a hotshot lawyer haunted by his failure to save an innocent man, escapes his life in New York and moves to Hawaii.  He rents a small office from a near-retirement lawyer, Jake, and plans to leave the high-profile cases back on the Mainland and now specialize in easy-peasy, slam-dunk, low-risk cases.  Before Kevin’s office furniture has even arrived, Jake reels him into representing a young man accused of killing his girlfriend.  For all the right reasons, of course, the $50,000 retainer having nothing to do with it.  Kevin has some trouble adjusting to the slow pace and easygoing nature of the Hawaiian culture, so investigating the crime and learning to navigate the Hawaii legal system is a challenge.  Corleone plays the brash New York attorney nicely against the people, culture, and land of Hawaii.  Corvelli is a fish out of water, but learning quickly to swim; his client’s life depends on it.  One Man’s Paradise is a pitch-perfect blend of wit, dialogue, setting, and plot.  One might even go so far as to say that, with this book, Corleone has made us an offer that we can’t refuse.

                                 — Recommended by Cheryl Holtsclaw, West Indianapolis Library


September 16, 2013

Goodnight, Sweet Prince

Goodnight, Sweet Prince
by Dickinson, David

It is the autumn of 1891, and the ugly whiff of blackmail has reached the dissolute Prince of Wales. The Crown asks Anglo-Irish Lord Francis Powerscourt to make a discreet investigation. Seasoned by years of military intelligence work, Powerscourt enlists the help of his longtime comrade in arms, Lord Johnny Fitzgerald, and together the two embark on the search for the blackmailer. When the Prince of Wales’ son, young Prince Eddy, is murdered, the nervous authorities cover up by officially reporting that he succumbed to influenza. Meanwhile, Powerscourt and Johnny search for the killer—and the blackmailer.

This is the first volume of the richly written Lord Powerscourt series of historical mysteries, noted for its beautifully drawn, engaging characters. While later books are concerned with obviously fictional events, in Goodnight, Sweet Prince, Dickinson plays with alternative history. Prince Eddy, according to the official record, did die of the flu. But suppose, just suppose, he was murdered…

          — Recommended by Miriam Guidero, Glendale Library


September 9, 2013

I, Iago

I, Iago
by Galland, Nicole

The premise of I, Iago, a prologue to and re-telling of Shakespeare’s Othello, seems like something from a sadistic contest deliberately meant to frustrate the writer: “Create a riveting story that can captivate a reader who already knows how everything is going to end. The end, of course, being defined in the classical tradition of Shakespearean tragedy as ‘The death of near-about-everyone involved’. (Uh. Spoiler alert, I guess. But come on…) Also the protagonist you have to get your readers to relate to is one of the most reviled villains in literature. Have fun!”

Fortunately, Nicole Galland proves herself worthy of the challenge. While the old “Let’s take a classic story and write the bad guy’s side of it!” bit has been done before (Wicked; The True Story of the Three Little Pigs; Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, etc…), the stakes were never so high as they are in I, Iago. Rather than taking an approach that tries to explain the villain’s infamous deeds as simply a series of goofy misunderstanding twisted by the press, Galland digs deep into the emotions and formative events that can lead an honest and well-meaning person to do evil, without diminishing the gravity of the crimes that the protagonist(?) eventually contributes to.

This is not to say that the book is brooding, as it’s actually surprisingly fast-paced and full of rapier wit (quite literally – we’re talking 16th century Venitian high society here). However, you do have to be in the mood for bawdy innuendoes and barbed compliments delivered in flowery noble speech to enjoy the humor.

I would say it’s more enjoyable to someone who has only read the general gist of the original Othello. You don’t want to go in blind, but as a reader who only remembered the overall premise of the play from my rather disinterested reading in high school, I enjoyed being surprised by the twists and turns that arose in the latter quarter of the book (when the events of the play begin to transpire).

It is certainly more accessible than the original Shakespeare, which admittedly isn’t saying a lot. There are points where the reader who isn’t well versed in one of the three subjects of history, Italian, or Shakespeare will have to decide whether to look up a word like “Doge” or “Fluxus”, or just charge on and assume its meaning through context. Fortunately, the latter is still a perfectly viable strategy!

                                  — Recommended by Daniel Perez, East 38th Street Library